A woman feeds ready-to-use therapeutic food to her malnourished daughter in Niger. UNICEF and its partners expect to treat up to 394,000 children under five this year for severe malnutrition in Niger alone.
To this day, one of DFID’s humanitarian programme managers Derek Markwell can picture the first time he came across aid agency medical doctors and nurses treating hundreds of severely malnourished children.
Derek says: "It was in southern Niger, the sun was beating down, and I walking into a vast tent full of beds. The first thing that hit me was the sound of crying from all directions. Only then did I twig that every bed contained a severely malnourished child, often accompanied by an anxious mother. I honestly challenge anyone not to be moved by the sight of fragile, often listless, tiny bodies fighting for mere survival."
UK aid is providing special highly nutritious foods, like the paste seen here, to save the lives of thousands of severely malnourished children under five years old in Niger, Chad and Mali.
At the same time these vulnerable children, through additional help from UK aid, will also benefit from treatment to address any underlying health issues they may have like diarrhoea and malaria. Mothers are also provided with hygiene kits and a mosquito net for the home and are taught how to recognise the early signs of child malnutrition.
World Humanitarian Day is a chance to celebrate and acknowledge the work of aid workers across the world - like doctors and nurses - often risking their lives for the sake of others. Although World Humanitarian Day lasts for only 24 hours, the work of aid workers responding to natural disasters and food crises does not.
To find out more about World Humanitarian Day 2012, visit www.dfid.gov.uk/whd2012
Picture: UNICEF/Olivier Asselin